Worst miss won't put Soane off ton target
POSSIBLY the worst miss of Stuart Soane's career hasn't knocked the Forres Mechanics' striker off the trail of a century of goals for the Mosset Park club.
Soane is locked in a battle with Andy MacRae to be the Cans' top marksman this season after he scored twice and MacRae got one in Saturday's 4-1 derby win over Lossiemouth.
The pair are dead level on an impressive 17 strikes apiece for the campaign, but Soane knows he should be one ahead after somehow managing to send a close-range effort right out of Mosset Park when it looked easier to score.
"It was an absolute sitter. I was two yards out and it went over the fence, probably the worst miss I've ever done in my life," Soane admitted.
"The goalkeeper fumbled it and because he was lying in front of me I just concentrated on hitting it over him. I caught it perfectly with my left foot but ballooned it straight over the fence.
"If I tried to do it again I honestly don't think I would be able to, it was that difficult to do what I did. But I got another goal after that so it wasn't so bad.
"I'd scored one before it and I got one later on so I realise I could have had a hat-trick."
His two goals continued a superb season for the versatile 31-year-old, who began the term at centre-back before being switched to attack to replace long-term injury absentee Lee Fraser.
Soane soon raced to 15 goals before picking up a hamstring injury which kept him out for five weeks.
He returned, still some way short of full fitness, for last Friday's Highland League Cup defeat at Wick but feels with a week of training under his belt and another 90 minutes he is closer to the mark.
"I felt a bit sharper but there's still a bit to go yet. It's quite a hard time to get your fitness up around Christmas, but I'm getting there.
"It was a bit frustrating when the injury happened because I was on a good run of form at the time."
Two years ago Soane finished as Mechanics' top scorer with 24 goals, his best tally yet for a campaign. A large percentage of his counters that year came while he was playing in defence.
Last term he netted 16 in another season affected by injury, finishing three behind Lee Fraser, whose campaign ended prematurely due to a ruptured cruciate ligament in his knee.
Soane's short-term target is to beat his 24 best and with 17 to his name just over halfway through the season he is well on course.
But Soane also learned at the start of this campaign that he was 31 short of reaching the magical 100 goals mark for Mechanics, and such has been the rate he has been hitting the net this year, he may be able to bring up the ton before next summer.
Of course, beating young pretender MacRae to the title of club's top goal getter is another aim for the Cans' makeshift centre-forward.
"I've been winding Andy up because I've been out for the last five weeks and he's still not managed to overtake me really. He had a wee opportunity to try and get ahead of me but it wasn't to be.
"Being 31 goals off scoring 100 for Forres, I realised the way this season has been going I might have an opportunity to get that, obviously with playing up front every game.
"I was on 15 goals before the injury and really fancied myself to get it but that five weeks out has set me back.
"No disrespect to the teams we've played when I was out but there was Fort William, Strathspey twice and Keith so I could have been amongst the goals. Now I need 14 to get the hundred so I'll keep working towards it."
Mechanics finished fifth in the Highland League last season and had been riding high as second this term, though injuries and suspensions took their toll towards the end of the year to edge them back to their current sixth position.
Soane still believes his team has what it takes to improve on last term and break into the top four.
"We have got a solid squad but it held us back with the players we've had missing in recent weeks," he said.
Cans visit Nairn on Saturday and host Deveronvale to finish the year and Soane added: "We need to get six points to be honest to see if we can keep tabs with the top four or five.
"We just need to try and hang in there."